Saturday, September 30, 2006


A few years ago, I started walking almost every single day. I started out doing it to regulate my mentrual cycle, but soon found out that there were lots of other benefits. When I walked in the morning, I had lots more energy and my days just flowed better.

After Sylvia was born, I fell out of the habit, and have not been able to get back into it. Over the last few months, at least I often have been doing aikido first thing in the morning, which helps some, but I felt that this didn't give me enough of a workout.

Today, after my aikido, the weather was so nice, crisp and sunny, and I decided to go for a walk. I took my mp3 player, so I could study Chinese while walking. It felt sooooooooooooo good to be out in the sun. I am definitely going to work on making it a habit again. Especially with the winter coming up.

When I came home, the kids had woken up, and Sylvia wanted to come on a walk with me. So I did a second walk with Kate and Sylvia, fun.

Today is go club day, will make myself some lunch and then head over to club. Last night, I was up till 4am (yes, playing go ^^), the morning walk helped me to wake up after that.

I have lots of pictures I want to post, but blogger is having problems, so I'll wait till it works better again.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Love Thursday

Love is carrying your babies and dolls around in the sling.

I would have posted more sling pictures, but blogger is being a big pain in the ass butt, so I am off to go club instead.

Oh, and if you wonder about the dirty faces, I tried to clean Sylvia's 'What about we clean your face before taking pictures?' Sylvia's reply 'NO Clean face!' OK, it's a fight I am not fighting ^^ I guess it shows real life better than a clean face would do :)

We will hide a cache on the way to go club, woohoo! I haven't hidden any caches in a while, happy to get around to it again.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Brother

This year has not been a good year for my brother and his family. In May, my nephew suicided, and this week both my brother and his wife have been in accidents :( A few days ago, they were riding their bikes, and a car took a right turn without seeing them. They got hit, my brother was fine, just shaken up, his wife had some scraping and bruising. She got checked out in the hospital, and could go home to heal, nothing serious.

Yesterday, my brother was in another accident, this time with his motorcycle. He got hit by a car, hurt his shoulder very badly, and bruised a couple of ribs. He is in a lot of pain. They were supposed to go on vacation next week, don't know whether that still will happen.

Please send some good thoughts their way.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Declutter Fever


Have to...


The clutter is just driving me crazy enough to actually DO something about it today. I am going to make a dump run at the end of the day, so I'd better fill up a bunch of trash bags. For now I went into the television room and did some pruning, resulting in three bags so far. I'll have a visitor next week, who will sleep in that room, and somehow that's a good incentive to start decluttering that room first. Not that he would care, but I do.

Kids are fighting like crazy today, not sure what's up with that. Maybe should take them out for a nice long hike later, but then I'd like to declutter too. Decisions, decisions!

Wish me luck digging myself through the television room!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Quote of the Day

Kate to Erik: 'You used your SUPER UGLY BUTT BUTT POWERS!!!!'

The joy of siblings ^^

Rain ,Rain!

We had wanted to do some more outside apple projects, but the rain is interfering. Looks like we will be stuck with rain and thunder storms for the rest of the day.

The good news is that I did some aikido outside before the rains even started, when there even still was some sun visible. For a while, I did aikido almost every morning, and felt really good. Life got in the way, and I almost never got around to it anymore, now I am trying to get back into the habit. I feel so happy I did it this morning.

It is a lot easier to be stuck inside if you have had some outside time and sunlight already.

Cleanup day today, so will have to work myself through 5,000 baskets of clean laundry. How can just a few kids generate soooooooooo much laundry?

Updated to add:Erik just came over to me with a glass 'Am I allowed to catch rain water to drink it????' Sure, I guess it will save on our water bill. And I just went to the kitchen to get some tea and saw Erik and Kate both happily playing outside in the rain. Makes me rethink rain as a thing to be annoyed about and forces me to try to find back the joy in it. Maybe later, I'll go out for a walk in the rain. Or maybe I am not that joyful about it yet ^^

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fun with Boxes

Half of the fun of getting packages is playing with the empty boxes.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with toys. Maybe I should have kept the 5,000 empty boxes which were residing in the basement.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Love Thursday

Last night and today, had some challengest hubby wise which I don't want to post about, so I was very happy to remember that today is Love Thursday. I am sending {{{ HUGS }}} to chookooloonks mommy after reading her post, she seems to be in a similar mood I am in.

I contemplated for a while which picture to post today, and decided to go with an older picture. This picture signifies my love for my family in the Netherlands, whom are so far away, and still very much loved. The internet sure has made it easier to keep into contact with them, but I wish it would be possible to just hop over and see them more often.

The timing of this picture is October 2001, just a few weeks after 9/11. My father was not doing well, and my mother-in-law flew over to our house, so that I could go visit him and say goodbye to him. We had arranged all that before 9/11, I had some thinking to do after it happened. My conclusion was that it was more important to me to see my father one last time, than it was to live in fear of something happening to me on the way. I was not going to let terrorists dictate me whether I would fly or not, I stepped on that plane willing to take any consequences of that decision.

It was a bitter-sweet time in the Netherlands, seeing old friends and family, spending time with my father, knowing it would be the very last time I would ever see him alive. Erik was the only one of my kids who was with me, he was almost 9 months old at the time. Holding on to him helped me to deal with some of the emotions around that trip, and I was happy that my father got to meet him. I am still sad that I never was able to introduce Sylvia to him, but I like to think that he does know anyway and watches me from wherever he is now.

The picture shows Erik and my brother-in-law with his horse. I love the way Henk was carrying around Erik in the sling and how he showered tons of love on Erik in the short time they were able to spend together. I really wish we were closer and could visit them more often. My life here is good, but there should be an easy, fast and cheap way to see my Dutch family more often.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Apples, Apples Everywhere!

This weekend, we spent half a day taking care of some apples we got during the apple picking.

Fried them with a little bit of butter, cinnamon and sugar, while my friend mosaica made pie dough.

Tara was working on getting more apples ready for other goodies.

Mini apple pies! Just a slice of apple with some pie dough around it. Those were a huge hit. Even Tim ate them!

We also made five loaves of apple bread and two large apple cakes. The directions for the apple cake said to 'arrange the slices artfully', which I translated into 'throw them on top and flatten them out'. Seemed to work just fine.

During all our work, the other kids entertained themselves with noodle fights...

Amazing how threatening one of those noodles can be in the right hands.

Now did we work through all our apples? Nope, still bags and bags full of apples left, sigh ^^

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Clean Up Day!

Worked myself through eight baskets of clean laundry (with Tara's help) and all the downstairs floors are walkable again, amazing. Our big project for the day was the freezer on top of the fridge, which had not been working well, things tended to melt sometimes. I need to buy a thermometer and play with the settings and figure out what is going on.

I decided that last time I cleaned out this freezer must have been early 2004, since that's the date from which items seemed to start. So many sticky and unrecognizable things, I am glad we finally did this. Do you know what a gooey mess gets made if a lastic bag full of banana mush empties itself? We do!

This is a picture of one of Tara's projects, the cabinet was in desperate need of decluttering (aren't they all??? ^^) She managed to transform it into a cabinet in which you can actually find things.

She discovered we had two waffle irons in there, and has been making waffles quite a few times since then.

It is nice to have kids old enough to make waffles all by themselves. Everyone is enjoying Tara's new skill :)

New Clothes!

Quite some excitement in our house when two boxes full of clothes arrived!

Kate soon found the 100 % angel shirt and claimed it.

The older girls had fun too. It's amazing how exciting it can be to get new clothes when you are a preteen girl. Tara described it as 'I tried to get as many clothes as I could get my dirty little hands on!' I don't think I can add anything to that ^^

Erik insisted he needed some clothes too, he hasn't reached the age yet where clothes are just something totally boring. My older boys were not even lukewarm about the clothes. I told them it saved them a shopping trip, which seemed to convince them to find something which fit.

After all the loot had been divided, it was time for showers. Tara put on some of her new clothes and has been changing her outfit about two or three times a day since (wait, she did that anyway ^^)

Thank you, aka Merritt!

Friday, September 15, 2006


aka What Would An Angel Do?

Kate got a '100 % Angel' shirt (thank you, aka Merritt), and had been happily wearing it. Today, she was very very upset about something and was standing here screaming, hitting and kicking. I asked her 'Look at your shirt, is that how an Angel would behave.' She yelled at the top of her lungs 'YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!', emphasizing it with yet another punch...

This started everyone talking about what would an angel do.
  • An angel would clean up her room!
  • An angel wouldn't put Nutella stains on her shirt.
  • Angels don't scream (Kate's reply to that 'OK, show me something that says that!'
  • Angels always smile (Kate: 'They NEVER smile!')
  • Angels like to dance in fields of flowers (Kate: 'I like to do that, but I am afraid we don't have a field of flowers' Jane 'We have some dandelions outside!'
  • Angels change their underwear every day (Well, I am not THAT kind of angel, I am the angel who SCREAMS when she doesn't get what she wants!')
All this was enough distraction to get through the crisis, and the angel is happily chasing her sister around the house now. I can hear her chanting 'I am the EVIL angel!'


I had lost momentum on my basement project, but today, I finally got rid of some more stuff. The basement is about 98 % done, so not too bad, but would be nice to finish. I told myself I would make a dump run today, and walked around the house, finding broken toys, empty boxes, useless papers, whatever to toss. Two trash bags filled in the basement, getting my 'basement trash bag running total' up to 132. Two trash bags filled in the girls room, they still are cleaning, but seem to have lost momentum there too. I managed to get a total of twelve bags to take to the basement (some was normal, everyday trash, but most was 'extra')

It felt good to get rid of more stuff, I love the idea of never ever ever having to see this again. Some day my house might be organized!

I have been enjoying the basement every single time I go in there. Finally it is useful. We can find things and use the space. It's amazing how a few hundred dollars and hours of hard work could turn this dump into a fun hangout for the kids.

Today, the little ones got out the legos and spent quite some time building and making up stories. Now they are off playing outside, Chris made sure we are having gorgeous and hot fall weather.

Off to have a shower and go to aikido. I still totally suck at it, and still totally love it. It's amazing how many ways you can mess up rolling with a katana in your hands :p

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Underwear in My Backpack!

Today, Sylvia has been quite fascinated with taking off her clothes and underwear, even more so than usually. I think I have seen her take off / put on her underwear at least 25 times. It is almost time to go to go club, so I told her to go put on clothes. 'No clothes!' I said 'What about we start with your underwear?' She perked up 'Underwear in my backpack!!!'

She ran away and came back totally naked with a backpack on her back. 'I be naked in the car.' 'Um...'

Later update:She was not amused but I did convince her that clothes are a social convention one has to put up with when out in public. She is dressed now. Including underwear ^^

Wondering about:She still has a pair of underwear in her backpack. Will she want to change into it at go club????

Love is

Carrying your little sister after apple picking.

Yes, time for Love Thursday again. I took a break from my go studying to post this picture. Things have been crazy here as usual, too much to do, too little time. There really should be more than 24 hours in a day!

Apple Picking

On Monday, we went apple picking. It is one of our traditional fall activities.

We went to a local orchard and the kids had a lot of fun picking tons of apples. Guess I'll have to actually do some baking soon.

Tim enjoyed fresh apples.

Cees gets some higher up apples.

Turns out I didn't get many pictures of Erik, he always seemed to be moving.

It was a lot easier to get pictures of Sylvia. She tremendously enjoyed having her very own bag full of apples.

Traditional practice.

Full bags.

Yet another apple princess.

Yesterday, Tara spent the day making a photo book of our apple picking at shutterfly. I hope the hardcopy will be here soon, I want to see how it turned out and see what the quality is like. I will send copies to the grandparents, I know they will enjoy them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bagel Basement Bewilderment

Today, my kids convinced me to get bagels at our favorite bagel place, the Bagel Basement. We always make a list, going for 39 bagels (3 bakers dozen) in assorted flavors. Usually we go in, hand over the list, get the bagels and some cream cheese, and are out in about 5 minutes.

Not so today. Today there was a new girl, very nice, but not very efficient. When Kate handed her the piece of paper with our bagel order, she looked at it in confusion. After half a minute she asked me 'Do you want all those?' I affirmed that yes, indeed I wanted all the bagels on my bagel order.

She spent time getting them all ready. I didn't check what she gave us, figuring she would be able to follow a list like this.

Time to ring up the purchases. The pricing schedule is simple, $0.65 per bagel, or $6.95 for a bakers dozen). She started ringing up the individual bagels.

Me 'I think this works out better if you ring it up per dozen'
Nice girl 'Is this a dozen of them?'
Me 'It is 39, three bakers dozen'
She started counting, '10, 25, 29, this is 29'
Me 'Look, those 3 kinds are 27 together already, no way the total can be 29'
She counted again 'This doesn't look like three dozen'
'It is three bakers dozen'
Helpful other customer 'This is not three dozen, three dozen is 36'
'Let me get a calculator'
Me trying to explain about bakers dozen, she looking at me like I had two heads.

This went on for at least 10 minutes, she getting more and more confused, finally resolved to just ring up the bakers dozen, if only to shut me up. She still wasn't convinced I think. We attracted quite some onlookers who were happy to offer their own view of mathematics. Tara, Kate, and Sylvia were with me and quietly watched the action.

A more experience associate came in and affirmed 'Oh yes, you get a free bagel for every dozen, that's why a bakers dozen is 13.' She perked up 'Oh!!! So what would you like for your free bagels?' We explained that they were included in those already, which seemed to befuddle her even more.

I paid and hightailed it out of there. I couldn't resist and checked the mathematics on my kids, who both were perfectly able to do it. So it didn't seem like an unreasonable skill to expect from someone working at the Bagel Basement.

At home, the hungry hordes descended on us. Cees asked 'Where are the cinnamon raisin bagels?' After checking and double checking, turned out we missed those and a bunch of other bagels, 10 alltogether. Sigh.

Back to the bagel basement, where I showed them the list of what we had asked for, what we got and what we were missing (didn't want to put the burden of the complicated mathematics on them). The girl stared at it and asked her colleague 'What should we do? Should we just give them to her?' Luckily a more seasoned associate came from the back 'Oh yes, she knows what she is doing, just give her the ones on the list'

Finally, we got our bagels. Took me about two hours instead of the normal quick trip. Amazing how hard it can be to do simple mathematics.

Darn It!!!

Sylvia has been starting to use 'darn it!' a lot. This morning, she wanted to play computer, but we had to leave soon, so I said it wasn't a good idea. She ignored me and tried anyway. She isn't able to start games by herself yet, but she sure was trying. I heard over and over 'Darn it!!!!!!! I almost got it!! Darn it!!! I almost got it!'

She managed to turn on the Nudge Nudge sketch mp3 file from Monty Python. Suddenly she wasn't saying anything anymore, just staring at the screen and wondering what the heck was happening ^^

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Not Back To School

Last weekend, our homeschool group had a Not Back To School Picnic. Always fun to reconnect with old friends and make new friends. It was at the beach of a local pond.

"Awaiting your orders, ma'am."

There were games to be played.

Canoes to be taken out on the pond.

Food to be eaten.

Swings to hang down from.

Water to play in

And friends to hang out with.

Everyone had a good time, and we are all ready to start yet another year of homeschooling.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Love is

Love is holding your minutes old baby. Smelling his newborn smell. Being happy that labor is over and this baby is here. Being surprised it is a BOY! Feeling your heart fill up with love for this person who is completing your life.

This was Tim's birth, who was peacefully born at home in the Netherlands, after a very intense labor. I was so amazed and in awe that my body had produced this perfect human.

He is a teenager now, time sure does fly.

Posted in honor of Chookooloonks Love Thursday. For the last few weeks, I have been wanting to participate, but never was organized enough. Today, I finally am!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Tara has been very helpful lately. Yesterday, she decided to tackle one of our cabinets.

Before she started:

It's hard to see in the pictures, but every single shelf was totally filled with things, in such a way that it was near to impossible to find item X if you hadn't used it for a few months.

After she was done:

We got rid of so many things which were past the expiration date or not being used anyway. Now you can actually look in there and FIND things, it's amazing. Again, it's not a clear difference in the pictures, since you can't see all the space that's now available on every single shelf. It makes a tremendous difference.

In addition, she worked herself through at least 7 baskets of laundry to be folded and put away, wow!

The boys have been cleaning up the downstairs floors a lot, so that I often can actually see them. Amazing! Maybe some day we will have an organized household (stop laughing!)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Geocaching in Pictures

Posting pictures of Friday's caching trip, it was a totally unplanned one. My friend called me she needed to get some stuff to her son at UNH. I invited ourselves to go with her. We found three caches on the way there.

When we made it to UNH, we decided it would be a shame not to drive a bit farther and see the ocean. Did a quick cache lookup and found a good one.

Naturally, by then it was almost dark, but that didn't hold us back. We just wanted to see the ocean, couldn't care less about the cache.

The light started changing when we got closer, and we could smell the ocean. The cache was hidden close to an old fort, and indeed, we couldn't find it. But we did visit the ocean and things just were perfect. We'll have to go back there some day and spend some daylight time searching for the cache.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Pretty in Pink

Dress up time!

Yesterday, we went shopping at the thrift store, because Tara 'didn't have ANYTHING that still fit her for the winter.' This is one of the shirts she got, she got quite a lot of cool clothes. Gotta love the thrift store for just letting them go wild and buy whatever they want. Kate and Sylvia both got new dolls. Erik was super happy about a Scooby Doo backpack.

Today was just quiet, rainy day at home. The little mouse Kyoto passed away :( She got a nice burial in the garden next to the pond. Poor little one.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Insufferable Arrogance

Last night, when coming home, Cees asked me 'How was it?'
Me: 'Fine, we found a bunch of caches.'
Cees: 'Great, did you find all of them?'
Me: 'No, we found three, couldn't find the last one.'
Cees: 'Good!'
Me: 'Good?????'
Cees: 'Yes, if you had found them all, you would have been
insufferably arrogant about it.'


Maybe the basement has been contagious.

Yesterday, Kate surprised me with this:

Just for comparison, this is another drawer, which is pretty similar to how the first one was:

And Tara helped me out by reorganizing and sorting Sylvia's clothes. The newborn tshirts didn't really fit her anymore :p

This is Sylvia's Corner, a special place for Sylvia to snuggle, sleep, play. The kids have been decorating it with pictures and lots of stuffed animals. Sylvia loves it. Last time we had friends over, she made them come and look at it.

We went geocaching yesterday, and true to form ended up caching in the dark...

Will post more about that later.